Martin Bicknell has generally given all to the Surrey cause over the years, although on occasions he can do things by halves. He was at it again here yesterday, taking half the Middlesex wickets to fall.
It was the 39th time in his first-class career - and the second time this season - that the 34-year-old seamer has taken five wickets in an innings. It also took him past 950 wickets in a first-class career that began back in 1986.
There is little doubt, though, that the one he would have most liked to have claimed was that of Ben Hutton, who dragged his side out of trouble and into the realms of respectability with his second hundred in successive Championship innings.
He was the only batsman who showed any confidence when playing Bicknell, who bowled as well yesterday as he has ever done. Indeed, just after lunch he looked all but unplayable when he got one to break back to find the inside edge of Owais Shah's bat and give Alec Stewart the first of three catches.
Four balls later Ed Joyce trudged back to the pavilion having fallen lbw to the same wily old fox. When Abdul Razzaq stood his ground a few overs later after being given out caught behind off Bicknell there was a suggestion of dissent, although there was no doubt in the mind of the keeper or the bowler. Razzaq eventually departed.
Bicknell crowned a majestic display by inducing a mis-timed pull from Paul Weekes. The resulting top edge brought the best out of Stewart, who made an Olympian leap to take a superb one-handed catch.
That wicket had come at the end of a trying spell for the championship leaders, when they had run up against a brick wall in the shape of Hutton and Weekes, who put on 108 for the sixth wicket.
Hutton in particular displayed all the discipline, diligence and determination of his grandfather and father as he turned his back on temptation and ground his way through the afternoon and evening sessions to inflict more than four hours of frustration on the Surrey toilers. He still showed a bit of daring as well, thumping four sixes, but in the main he was circumspect, as circumstances dictated he should be.
Sadly he did not make it to stumps. Shortly after reaching the sixth century of his first-class career he was bowled by Ian Salisbury, pushing down the wrong line, but he had done his job - and one witnessed by the England selector Geoff Miller.Reuse content